Archive for the 'Building' Category

My First Foamcore Ruins: FINISHED

Several years ago, I started a project. I designed and built a ruined building out of foamcore. I added some details and some debris, made a blog post about it, and then it sat on my printer for A Long Time. Then, I finally primed it and painted it (half-assedly, I might add) and then it sat on the printer again, for A Long Time. Eventually it ended up in a photo on my blog related to something else. And then we moved, and it sat in the basement again for A Long Time.

Earlier this spring, I repainted it and it was finished. And this past weekend, I finally took some decent pictures of it.

I'm sorry, I will not stay at this hotel again

I don’t think it has a great amount of detail, but it’s got more detail than many foamcore buildings you see on some gaming tables, so I suppose it’s a step in the right direction. There’s a fine line one must walk between making something that looks like a diorama (this is nowhere near that quality, obviously)  and something that’s actually playable and will allow you to stand some models on it.

I think it needs a little more detail on the outside

I repainted this with my first airbrush lesson with John back earlier in the summer, and added a few more visual details after the new coats of paint. If you plan on doing a lot of terrain, picking up even a cheap airbrush will make your work so much quicker and look quite a bit nicer as well. Painting large areas with a brush is really time consuming and difficult to make look good.

I really should've put a figure in one of these photos for scale purposes

Also, you want to make sure to add details. If you have ever seen a building before (and I suspect you might’ve) you’ll have noticed that they have details on them. Things like pipes, vents, junction boxes, heating and cooling units, etc. That, and simple surface details and window sills and the like, really enhance the look of a building. I should do a post or two just about those kinds of things.

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My Modular Urban Terrain Project

I got an idea last year about making some modular urban terrain to play with. I thought about it for a long time and made a bunch of sketches and notes. Eventually, these turned into some computer drawings and a list of components. One of the first things I needed was a four foot square mat to represent the streets. I looked around online and settled on a mat from The Terrain Guy made of canvas, textured and covered in rubber. This is a great handmade mat for a good value, in my opinion. This will be the streets of my urban board.

I decided that MDF would make up the ‘blocks’ of my urban landscape. Once I decided on all of the sizes and shapes in my configuration, I had to get some MDF and a friend with a table saw.

A simple grid map

After a lot of sawing, I had a stack of squares and rectangles and whatnot, and then it was time for the sanding and the dremeling, which is probably not a real word. The general idea was to round the edges of the pieces and use them as curbs and sidewalks.

A simple example layout with a few buildings for scale

This will allow for a board with many different configurations. Between the different ‘blocks’ and the ability to put different buildings and other terrain pieces on those blocks, I should have hundreds of variations for my gaming table.

However, I now need to texture and paint all of the ‘block’ pieces. I’ll be using sand and kitty litter with wood glue to do the texturing, and then I’ll be painting the pieces with black latex paint. After that dries, I’ll be spraying them grey and doing a little drybrushing.

We seem to be under attack

So the plan is to document the further work on the modular urban project. I doubt I’ll be able to get much done this weekend, as it is currently very humid around here. Hopefully that’ll be cleared up by the end of the weekend so I can do a little painting outside on Sunday morning. I’ll keep you informed here.

Some Old Terrain

Skeleton Rock

Skeleton Rock

Here’s some terrain I built three or four years ago. I keep it (and the little skellie from Reaper Miniatures that I painted at a Paint ‘n Take at last year’s OshCon) on top of my big four-drawer filing cabinet in my office at work. The skellie stands there and protects the filing cabinet and his rock from all attackers. People come into my office, look at the bony soldier and not-actually-made-of-rock dias, and usually move the both of them over so they can lean on the filing cabinet while they yammer at me (except for Dave, who doesn’t yammer). The poor unholy warrior just stands there, his sword raised in impotent rage.

The piece is mostly all made out of that pink house insulation foam that you see nailed to the outside of houses as they’re building them or putting on new siding. The skull on the rock totem is actually an old plastic Halloween skull ring. There’s also some model railroad talus (small rocks) and some green foam fake shrubbery (on the backside of the rock totems, out of the camera shot).

The main platform was cut with a Wonder Cutter, which is a hot wire foam cutter. It works great, but leaves the edges with a kind of tell-tale signature ‘look’. People who make terrain can tell you cut it with a hot wire foam cutter and then didn’t try to finish the edges to make it look like stone or anything.

The three totems where cut from the foam with an extendable utility knife. I used the tip of the knife to make the striations on the faces of the totems. They actually turned out rather well; maybe I’ll make a mini-tutorial about how to do that some day.

I then painted it all with tempera paints. For the grass area, I added in some painter’s texture, because I hate flock like poison. I can never get it to stick right and it gets all over everything. For the stone areas, it was a dark grey, then a drybrushing of lighter grey, then a drybrushing of white.

What would I do differently? I would finish the edges of the platform. I’d either sand it smooth and paint the edges green like the grass to make into more of a mound or I’d cover the edges with spackle or I’d just chip away at it with a knife… anything to get rid of that hot wire foam cutter look.

I’d also add more detail to the ground. I’d glue kitty litter to the area around the totems and I’d actually paint the talus rocks, instead of just glueing them down and letting them be their own color. I’d also drybrush the grass to give it more visual interest.

I’m planning on making a new version of this terrain piece, using the new techniques that I’ve learned in the last three or four years. When I do, I’ll have to post comparison shots to see if I’ve gotten any better.

My First Foamcore Ruins

So, I have been building terrain for several years now: hills, walls, shrines and the like. However, I’ve never built the standard foamcore ruined building for use on my gaming table. A few weeks ago, I started to correct that error.

The outside of my ruined building

The outside of my ruined building

I started, as I usually do, at the computer. I used my vector drawing program to draw a two-story wall section with window holes and such and printed it out for a template. That allowed me to trace my template on to some nice, non-bent and non-molested pieces of foamcore, which were actually difficult to find at my place. After I cut the shapes out of the foamcore, I glued them to the piece of MDF I had prepared before. The MDF was cut using a RotoZip saw and then it was sanded and smoothed with a combination of my crappy Dremel and a sanding block.

And the inside, and its happy rubble.

And the inside, and its happy rubble

Once my foamcore walls and base were all glued together, I started working on details. I’m a big fan of details in terrain. I glued a mixture of sand and kitty litter to the “broken” edges of the walls, and added it to the floors along with some other little pieces of sprue and plastic for rubble. I also glued down jagged pieces of plaster that I had prepared and broken earlier to give the look of broken concrete. I want to cover the floor and make it look convincing, but I still need the terrain to be usable. If I can’t stand a miniature on most of it, then it’s not a very playable piece of terrain, it’s mainly just an obstacle. Obstacles have their place on the gaming table, but not usually as an entire ruined building. Therefore, I’m careful about my placement of my debris.

Finally, I added pieces of plastic card and cereal card as molding and other architectural details to the structure. I believe that even simple foamcore ruins can be greatly improved with some simple window sills and other surface embellishments.

As it turns out, I thought I had something else going on this Saturday, but now I’m mainly free, so I’m going to see if I can finish the detailing on this piece and get it primed (if it’s not rainy) so I can start painting it. I’ll post more images once I get to that point.


atom smashing

A gaming blog talking about miniatures games, miniatures painting and collecting, game design and other nerdly delights.


The Statistics – 2013

Minis games played:
• WH40k (1850 pts):
   BT/GK vs Kevin (Eldar/DE) LOST
• WH40k (1500 pts):
   BT vs Jason (D.E.) LOST
• WH40k (1500 pts):
   BT vs Kevin (S.W.) LOST
Minis finished:
 none yet
Terrain finished:
 none yet
Cons attended:
 Fire & Ice
updated 28FEB2013

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